Moisture Performance Of An All-Wood R-30 Wall

Natural alternatives to foam insulation are highly desirable for high-performing wood-framed buildings.  But lignocellulosic materials can be highly bio-nutritive and moisture absorptive, increasing their vulnerability to degradation and reduced thermal performance.  Designers are often faced with the dilemma of selecting materials that are less environmentally safe for much improved performance.  In this article, I describe a…

Brick And Concrete Masonry Failures: Considerations For Preserving Post-War Era Buildings

Concrete masonry construction was common practice in post-war Modern architecture where it was used extensively in schools, churches, public buildings, and industrial complexes.  Brick and concrete block-bonded construction gained favor in many public buildings for its perceived durability, aesthetics, and relative ease of construction.  Over 50 years later, many of these buildings now have historic significance but suffer…

Exterior Insulation And Drainage Plane Woes

The IECC’s requirement for 1” continuous exterior insulation has prompted wall configurations that integrate various types of outbound insulating materials.    With all of these systems, adequate considerations must be made for the amount of moisture penetration from wind driven rain and the presumed location of this moisture load.   It is generally assumed that exterior surfaces of…

Frankensteinian Design: Energy Efficiency At The Expense Of Durability

Energy efficient initiatives, coupled with the IECC’s requirements for continuous insulation over exterior surfaces, have prompted a vast array of ‘Frankensteinian’ energy assemblies.  From three-coat stucco over outbound EPS to EIFS on structural insulated panels (SIPs), the combinations of such hybrid approaches appear endless.  While the professed energy efficiencies can be impressive, moisture management may…

Reach A Higher State Of EIFS Consciousness

Moisture performance of EIFS is misunderstood and it continues to be a subject of consternation.  Much of the confusion stems from the fact that design criteria for EIFS assemblies incorporating cavity insulation plus outbound insulation panels have not been adequately addressed by the EIFS industry.  Manufacturers place the responsibility of assembly design squarely on the…

Is Your Rainscreen Deceiving You?

The rainscreen concept, now almost 50 years old, has only recently gained traction in current building practices.  As we explore here, simply placing a capillary break behind your cladding may not provide the protection you expect. Moisture management has always depended on a balance between the entry of water and the capability to remove it. …